DEL MAR — A San Diego Superior Court jury on Sept. 3 awarded actor Tom Selleck more than $187,000 after finding he and his wife were hoodwinked when they were sold a horse with an undisclosed medical condition.
Selleck and his wife, Jillie Mack-Selleck, accused Del Mar equestrian Delores Cuenca of portraying Zorro, a 10-year-old show horse that suffered from lameness, as fit for competition.
Lameness can be caused by something as simple as a rock in the hoof or be as serious as a broken bone in the horse’s hoof, leg or hip. In this case, Zorro had a broken hoof bone, but because he’d been treated with steroids before the pre-purchase examination, his lameness wasn’t revealed, court documents state.
The bulk of the Sellecks’ monetary award goes to their purchase of Zorro, which cost them more than $120,000, and the rest was awarded for other miscellaneous costs relating to the horse, including boarding and medical expenses.
A second phase of the case to determine punitive damages was scheduled for Sept. 7.
The Sellecks’ attorney, George Knopfler, told jurors in his closing argument that his clients relied on Cuenca’s agent, Lynn Obligado and her husband Guillermo Obligado, who deceived the Sellecks about the condition of Zorro by not informing them about the horse’s lameness or the steroid injections he received a few days before the pre-purchase examination. Further, Knopfler accused Guillermo Obligado, an Olympic equestrian, of delaying the examination to prepare Zorro.
Knopfler called the defendant’s move a “pump and dump,” and reminded the jury that a veterinarian testified Zorro’s injury could have been fatal for a rider.
Attorney Robert Scapa accused Tom Selleck, who admitted when he testified he didn’t know a lot about horses, of attending the nearly two-week hearing to “persuade the jury with his star power.”
Selleck starred in the CBS network television series “Magnum, P.I.” from 1982 to 1988. He has acting credits include more than 75 films and television shows dating back to 1969.
In his closing argument, Scapa said a veterinarian testified Guillermo Obligado was right in delaying the pre-purchase examination to allow the horse to recover from a recent competition and the accompanying medications Zorro was given.
Despite the plaintiff’s belief that this was a conspiracy case, Scapa told jurors that the Sellecks relied solely on their agent’s advice and should have checked the horse’s medical records, especially since Lynn Obligado left a box concerning Zorro’s past veterinarian treatments blank on the pre-purchase examination form.
“One cannot profit from their own wrong,” Scapa said in his closing argument.